Zeppelin air raid to be marked

A BLUE plaque is to be erected on the site of Great Yarmouth homes which were damaged in the world’s first air raid bombing attack 97 years to the day.

The first of two plaques to be officially unveiled on January 19 by the Great Yarmouth Local History and Archaeological Society will be at 25 St Peter’s Plain, by permission of Flagship Housing Group, to commemorate the bombing of the town by a German Zeppelin airship during the first world war.

Yarmouth has the dubious distinction of being one of the first towns in Britain to suffer aerial bombardment which resulted in homes damaged and fatalities.

On the night of January 19, 1915 the German Naval Zeppelin Airship L3 piloted by Kaptain Lieut. Hans Fritz - who was thought to be following a train into Beach Station - flew low over the town dropping several bombs probably with the intention of damaging naval targets in the harbour. This was, perhaps, an early example of a continuing belief amongst military men who believe they are damaging their enemy’s war machine, when in fact, they were causing much of what is now described as collateral damage to civilians.

The civilian population of Yarmouth was unaware of the dangers of air raids and looked upwards at the large shape in the night sky at about 8.30pm. However, a bomb falling on St Peter’s Plain caused the most damage and the death of two civilians. The front of Mr Ellis’s house, number 25, received a direct hit but he was only slightly injured by flying glass as he was in the back of the house at the time.

A description of the events of the night said: “The scene in St Peter’s Plain was one of considerable ruin. Windows were blown out and walls and woodwork shattered in all directions and the roadway covered in considerable debris. At the head of the passage the body of Miss Taylor (Martha Taylor a 72 year old spinster) was found. She was shockingly mangled and most of her clothes were torn off. There was a large wound in the lower part of her body and part of her arm was torn off and lay in the road near her. The other victim, Samuel Smith, (a 53 year old shoemaker), who had been standing in the road near her and was also killed. A good part of his head had been torn away and was lying in a pool of blood.”

The society’s second plaque is on the Salvation Army building near the Central Library and refers to the residence of a notable son of Yarmouth, Robert Warmington (1740-1812) who lived in Row 1804.

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He was Mayor of Yarmouth in 1780 and 1808. He acted as Vice Consul for Denmark, The City of Hamburg, Prussia, Sweden and the USA.

He was agent for regular sailings to Cuxhaven and Hamburg and acted as agent and storekeeper for the Royal Navy. He also was agent to Lord Nelson.

The plaque on St Peter’s Plain will be unveiled by Commander Simon Askins RN (retired) at 10.15am and the plaque to Robert Warmington will be unveiled by Dr Paul Davies at about 11am.

Society spokesman Andrew Fakes said these two unveilings were part the society’s on-going programme to place plaques commemorating important events and people in the history of Great Yarmouth.